MS and Alcohol Consumption – Can I Still Have a Drink Or Two?

One of the many questions that adults who are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis often ask is if they can still continue to enjoy alcoholic beverages or if they are going to be off limits. If you were to ask many patients about MS and alcohol consumption you are likely to get a wide variety of opinions. While the opinions may vary somewhat they seem to all contain a very similar thread in that the amount of alcohol that must be consumed before the person begins to feel the effects is significantly lower than they may have been able to consume before contracting MS.

The National MS Society Says

If you were to look to the MS society and ask them for their opinion regarding MS and alcohol they will tell you that while individual results may differ from patient to patient the overall experience with most patients is negative. Some patients report that their symptoms of lack of coordination and balance became significantly worse after as little as a single drink.

Research has also shown that patients on certain MS medication such as Diazepam, Baclofen and a variety of anti depressants notice an additive effect where the combination of these medications for MS and alcohol exacerbate many of the symptoms. Before you consider consuming any alcoholic beverage you should talk to your doctor so that you are more aware of the possibility of certain side effects.

Alcohol Abuse and the MS Patient

One of the biggest problems with MS and alcohol consumption seems to be the exceptionally high incidence of multiple sclerosis patients who end up with an alcohol abuse problem. Studies done in the last 10 years seem to show that younger adults are at a very high risk for alcohol abuse when compared to other MS patients. The research showed that the risks were especially high among those who were depressed whether or not they had a family history of alcohol abuse.

According to an article published by Carrie Lyn Sammarco in a 2007 issue of Neuroscience Nursing, alcohol abuse seems to be a way that some patients attempt to deal with the emotional impact of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and having to learn how to live with it. Again this is where talking to your doctor or specialist can help you to decide if having an occasional drink is going to be something that you can handle.

In the end it is a personal decision that only you can make, you have to decide for yourself if you can handle your MS and alcohol consumption or if you need to avoid it. If you feel that an occasional drink or two does not seem to have any major side effects then you are probably ok, the alcohol itself will not exacerbate the MS itself although it can make the symptoms worse. On the other hand if you are drinking to help cope with the fact that you have multiple sclerosis, you may want to seek professional help to find alternative ways to come to terms with your disease.